In modern times, the Jews were “invited” out of the country in 1956 after relations between the Arabs and Israelis deteriorated into war. Nor were they asked to return after the peace treaty was signed between Egypt and Israel. However, it is important to remember that despite these modern events, Jews lived in Egypt for many thousands of years and their history in the land of the Egyptians is deserving of some comment. As they have in most parts of the world, Jews in Egypt have experienced sporadic periods of acceptance with longer ones of repression. During Pharoanic times, Jews were present throughout the kingdom. The Hebrew Bible records stories of Jewish experiences under Pharaoh, though it never specifies which Pharaoh. Many Biblical scholars maintain the belief that the Hebrews were in captivity in Egypt under Ramses the Great, but there is no archeological or other external evidence of that 400 year sojourn. Some scholars look for internal evidence in the Bible itself and believe that the story could be plausible. But at present the story has to be accepted on faith rather than empirical evidence. The story of Moses in the bulrushes discovered by Pharaoh's daughter is another Biblical event that cannot be substantiated in historical or archeological records. Some researchers believe that the daughter of Hatshepsut (the female pharaoh) was the person who adopted Moses from the Nile. But all these are speculations without physical or written foundation. All through the varied periods of history in Egypt, Jews are have been present including ancient times. They have gone through Christian ages, Turkish rule, Islamic domination, the Mamelukes, Roman and Byzantine times. Though persecuted often and tolerated occasionally, they survived in Egypt for thousands of years. At some times, Jews held positions of power in whatever government held sway and at other times they were exploited and made to pay exorbitant “taxes” for the privilege of living in their communities. Sometimes, their synagogues and their scholarship were respected and valued and at other times their houses of worship were burned and their schools destroyed. But it took modern events of the 20 th century to bring Jewish life in Egypt to a complete end. Zionism and the establishment of the Jewish state of Israel sealed the fate of Jews in most of North Africa.
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